March 30, 2016



See you all in NY. Meanwhile, this is pretty neat:

Why not bake them in casserole dishes?



Anonymous Anonymous said...

They clearly haven't read your work MB! Maybe you should send them free copies of CTOS:


6:37 PM  
Anonymous John S said...

And the punish women for abortions comment is not even close to the most egregious things the great reality TV star buffoon has said. He's said and done so many crazy things I can keep up and you could write multiple dissertations on them. For example he's recently said that we need to expand nukes and in certain circumstances it might be OK to use nukes.

The most telling thing Trump said was when he said he could shoot a person in the street and his followers would not blink an eye, and it proves to be true again and again at the polls. I run across these Trump-bots from time to time, some of them reasonably intelligent in other ways, and marvel at their degree of delusion. I agree with the consensus that much of it is about restoring the myth of white man's burden. Or as Nietzche or Kierkegaard would put it philosophically the concept of -ressentiment - frustration, envy and hostility projected on an 'other' as the enemy, instead of looking at the enemy within - which Americans are utterly incapable of doing even at the most minute levels. More and more I really feel like a stranger in a strange land.

Electing Hillary would be awful, a reinforcement of the reality of cynicism, dishonesty and corruption, but by comparison, electing Trump would be national suicide, there is no other way to put it. Are we lemmings ready to jump off a cliff.

11:23 PM  
Blogger Marc L Bernstein said...

The following remark by Noam Chomsky should be familiar :

"The US is, to an unusual extent, a business-run society, without roots in traditional societies in which, with all their severe flaws, people had some kind of place. Its history as a settler-colonial and slave society have left their social and cultural legacy, along with other factors, such as the unusual role of religious fundamentalism. There have been large-scale, radical democratic movements in American history, like the agrarian populist and militant labor movements, but they were mostly crushed, often with considerable violence."

2:15 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Note to all Wafers in Vancouver and the Pacific NW:

Banyen books came thru, and I'll be doing a rdg from TMWQ at their store, 3608 W. 4th Ave. in Vancouver, May 18 at 6:30 pm. Don't worry, I shall re-announce this at the end of April. Also, we'll probably do a Wafer dinner May 17 or 19; stay tuned for info on that as well.


2:36 AM  
Blogger Yossi said...

All is not lost while there are artists like Patricio Guzman around. Watch his film 'The Pearl Button"

4:14 AM  
Anonymous Gary said...

~ Epicurus & Siddhartha Gautama - Coulda Buddha Gouda ~

"Here’s a thing then. Epicurus invented the American Dream (slight generalisation). Epicurus was once falsely accused of eating too much cheese. Today, everyone in America literally has to vomit twice a day because of how much cheese they eat (also maybe a slight generalisation).

Things are so ironic when they are ironic."

these guys are pretty funny. The previous comic featured Plato making duck rabbit cave shadow puppets for Wittgenstein.

8:34 AM  
Anonymous doremus said...

Interesting, but seems to show they were maybe an exception to the rule:

"Study of ancient Japanese hunter-gatherers suggests warfare not inherent in human nature"

8:36 AM  
Anonymous Will Long said...

Speaking of Fascism this is an incredible book, started leafing thru it today,

12:10 PM  
Blogger Christian Schulzke said...

Ok, so I think this one takes the cake as far as police officers murdering civilians is concerned. The cop shot a guy begging for his life on his knees. The cherry on top? The cop used a custom AR-15 that has the words YOU'RE FUCKED etched on the side.

12:26 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

this is a wonderful lecture, explains the trump phenom from a psych perspective

Sheldon Solomon, "Overcoming the Fear of Death", January 11, 2016

12:27 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

This is insane:

This is the first time, to my knowledge, anybody has really seen what goes on inside the Kingdom because you can't legally film in there. Quite frankly, I've never seen anything like it. This hasta be the most repressive society on planet earth. Kim Jung-un is a dilettante in the art of repression next to these people. There are scenes in this film where women are publicly executed. Hidden cameras are used to get inside a main mosque where the sermon is basically it's yr duty to kill the Jews and kill the Christians. The fact that the US considers SA an ally; makes excuses for their hideous behavior; and sits down and negotiates w/these folks is a complete obscenity. Anyway, it's pretty revealing.


ps: Keep in mind that Obama is going to a summit in Riyadh on April 21st.

12:56 PM  
Anonymous Joe from Chicago said...

Dr. Berman and the Wafers, (apologies for the long post)

Has anyone read this Atlantic interview with Obama about his "doctrine?"

Two (unsurprising) observations. 1) There is nothing akin to historical materialism in either the reporter or Obama's analysis of geopolitics, i.e. the idea that capitalism has certain fixed structural principles and that these condition world events is blinkered out. Obama mentions somewhere that other countries recognizing American values and "property rights" is good for the world. That reference to Anglo-American property law - and, by extension, the profit-system that evolved out of it - is about the the closest he comes to acknowledging the root cause of permanent war and human misery.

2) In an article exploring the nuances of Obama's private "disdain" for the "foreign policy establishment orthodoxy," orthodox fictions like "Russia's invasion of Crimea" and "Iran is the biggest state sponsor of terrorism" are dutifully upheld. Obama picks and chooses which Big Lies to use where and when.

The article is, of course, PR. And this isn't news but Obama's really a genius at it. For example, here he is sarcastically deflating one of 2014's big spectacles: "During the couple of months in which everybody was sure Ebola was going to destroy the Earth and there was 24/7 coverage of Ebola.." But Wafers may recall Obama listing (in this order) Ebola, Russia, and ISIS as the three biggest threats facing the world in a speech at the UN during those months where "everybody" (except him) was gripped with irrational fear. What a master operator.

Trump isn't smart enough to have an ego the size of Obama's. Imagine his deep self-satisfaction at his power to lie. I wonder what he fixates on in the bouts of melancholy that accompany powerful intellects.

1:25 PM  
Anonymous Dawgzy said...

Hi, Wafers. It's finally not raining here in Portland! I've been out playing in the dirt (raised beds for vegetable garden instead of the hinky scheme that we had before.) Doremus, having read about the Chagnon war several years back, I'm skeptical of sweeping claims about "human nature," from anthropologists, and I suppose archaeologists as well. My boomer cohort in academe seems at times to fit the facts to their (undisclosed) beliefs about us. There was a book out this past year or so by Dreger "galileo's middle finger. " about it and another similar controversy. Chagnon published some things about an Amazon tribe he'd studied for decades and was nearly drummed out of His field because some social justice anthropologists didn't like it and pretty much slimed him massively. He was ultimately vindicated. that said, I've taken exactly one anthropology course and haven't read the book. I'm sort of like BillMurray's movie reviewer on Saturday Night Live- pontificating about a movie and in passing saying "I haven't seen it but... ."

5:04 PM  
Blogger 2bsirius said...

I've just finished your novella, "The Man Without Qualities", and I guess that I'm simply not sophisticated or deep enough to fully grasp the satiric aim of the book. For example, did you intend George to be a raging narcissist or did I badly misread his character? Also, are readers to see validity in the worshipful and (to me) largely unearned universal adoration of George by the book's character? Also, I was bemused about the name dropping in the novel. Was your reader intended to be impressed with the celebrity names --Bill Maher, Woody Allen, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, etc, etc-- peppered throughout the text? In short, after reading the novel, I still have very little idea of what "authenticity" is. I do think that our collective quality of life has been decimated by commercialization, hustling and the myth that the American Dream.
I have just begun to research another interesting thinker, Charles Hugh-Smith. I'll be reading his latest book "A Radically Beneficial World." I am hoping that he will deal more with concrete ways forward.

5:16 PM  
Blogger Alogon said...

I love this website as a rare oasis of intelligent discussion. Comments from readers are often as worth reading as the articles themselves.

Rod Dreher quotes an article: "61 percent of emerging adults we interviewed have no problems or concerns with American materialism and mass consumerism. These emerging adults are essentially quite happy with our social system of shopping, buying, consuming, and disposing.... All that society is, apparently, is a collection of autonomous individuals who are out to enjoy life."

Then he writes, "This is who we are. This is who we have raised our kids to be, whether we intended to or not."

He's sounding more like a good Wafer all the time.

5:24 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

In Colorado, there has been such a rash of douchebags using fake service animals in order to park in handicapped spaces that a bill has been sponsored to outlaw the practice:

Meanwhile, there's a measles outbreak in one of California's hotbeds of the anti-vaccination movement:

And lastly but not leastly, only in America could be an actual thing where lonely people pay someone to hang out with them:

10:57 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

News from the ecclesiastical front:

On Tuesday, the Senate of the great state of Mississippi passed the Mississippi Church Protection Act. As reported on the website, the act would effectively allow churches to form their own militias. The act must be debated in the House; if approved there, it would then go to the governor's desk for signature.

Details here:

And now, please take out your hymnals and turn to Hymn 575. You know the one...

Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
with the cross of Jesus going on before.
Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe;
forward into battle see his banners go!
Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
with the cross of Jesus going on before.

[Lyrics by Sabine Baring-Gould; music by Arthur Sullivan]. [Yes, THAT Arthur Sullivan]

11:08 PM  
Anonymous Mohamed said...

What we'll the collapse of America mean for Israel ?

2:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Morning Wafers,

Brilliant and hilarious piece on techno douchebaggery:


6:33 AM  
Anonymous Rusty Snag said...

Dr. B:

Looking forward to meeting with you and some other real-live Wafers in NYC! My son from Connecticut wants to tag along. I would describe him as pre-Waferian. Last week he and I were talking about how so many really stupid people are supporting presidential candidates who will only worsen their lives. I thought to myself: "That's my boy!"

8:45 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Not a problem!


Sorry you didn't like the bk. Clearly, it's not for everyone!


File under "This American Life."


10:16 AM  
Anonymous Golf Pro said...

Fuck me.

This one really takes the biscuit.

2:15 PM  
Anonymous Northern Johnny said...

Reading, yet again, that many Americans are thinking of ditching the USA for Canada if El Trumpo wins the Presidency.

Canadian society is undoubtedly preferable, however, the fact remains that our governments (federal, provincial, municipal) all continue to entrench Neoliberalism by stealth - so to speak. You might call it 'Neoliberalism with a Friendly Face' (Prime Minister Trudeau, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne), as opposed to 'Socialism with a Human Face.' If we can be said to have made progress in the last year, it would be in terms of the decline of Neoconservative governments in Canada, the most notorious being that of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper (He of the helmet hair), former Premier Jim Prentice of Alberta, and former right-wing populist Toronto mayor Rob Ford (who sadly died last week of cancer).

- Northern Johnny

4:34 PM  
Anonymous 2 shades of Gray said...

Our friendly neighborhood John Gray has a couple new pieces, one on ISIS and the other on a Philip K Dick based web series:

6:11 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Literally nothing abt America surprises me anymore.


6:45 PM  
Anonymous Darrin said...

All should go see the film Embrace of the Serpent, first academy award nominated Colombian film, almost like a truly spiritual experience, at times.

7:59 PM  
Anonymous Joe said...

Is there cheaper alternative to Sage Publishing. Super interested in reading your essay The Shadow side of Systems Theory

3:54 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Not that I know of, sorry.


11:28 PM  
Anonymous lack of coherence said...

Thought you'd enjoy this - a protest against protest:

“We are a group of very unconcerned citizens who are tired of not being able to come to the post office without some worthy cause vying for our attention and nagging at our conscience,” said Taylor. “We would like clear, quiet streets again so that we can be oblivious to the needs of this community and be content with our own lives.”

1:08 AM  
Blogger Alogon said...

>Epicurus was once falsely accused of eating too much cheese. Today, everyone in America literally has to vomit twice a day because of how much cheese they eat (also maybe a slight generalisation).

Epicurus has been falsely accused of a lot of things, including atheism. I'm sympathetic to his philosophy (although must confess to not having read enough primary sources to say I am a devoted follower). Its contentment with quiet, obscurity, smallness, and moderation would never appeal to an American mentality of manipulative hustling, grandiosity, and publicity-seeking. Christianity has historically been opposed to it, but I understand that this may be largely accidental, in that its popularity during the first century A.D. made it a foremost rival. One encyclopedia of philosophy explains that the lifestyle of a good Epicurean is similar to that of a good Stoic, but what the stoic does out of duty the Epicurean does out of friendship-- another important value to keep in mind. Pierre Gassendi, a contemporary of Descartes, believed that Christian faith was compatible with a form of Epicureanism.

Any further insights from this erudite circle would be interesting.

2:11 AM  
Anonymous Jolly said...

William J. Perry, the 19th US defense secretary, shares his nuclear nightmare in this video produced by the William J. Perry Project: A nuclear terrorist attack on Washington, DC, followed by martial law and detention centers.

2:58 AM  
Anonymous Mohamed said...

Allah or Jesus help us all. The crash is coming. Great interview with Chris hedges

3:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So I went out with some friends last night in London, and met a friend of a friend - a 22 y/o investment banker who graduated from Oxford. I am not particularly fond of investment bankers, and a few minutes into the conversation, I asked him why does he work in his job and what gives him satisfaction from it. I couldn't help but being a bit passive aggressive in the beginning of our conversation, but the conversation quickly turned cordial. I was just genuinely curious to hear what the guy had to say. Do you know what he replied? "I don't believe in altruism and people are only out there to look out for themselves". At 22 y/o. How the hell do you argue with that??! He was vey smart as well and knew how to debate, so when he argued with you it was hard to fight back. What's even more surprising is that the guy comes from a European country that's been completely ruined by banks, so out of all people, he should understand how greedy and immoral investment banks are. There was a complete disconnect between mind and feelings when you listened to him. It was truly scary.


5:58 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Jolly, here's a parody on douchebag amerika.

We ask, they deliver. Just like Dominos Pizza -would you like some U235 topping sir?

10:57 AM  
Anonymous El Trumpo said...

Just some observations from daily life here in Murica. I was in walmart and a young woman about 24 or 25 rammed her shopping cart into a little girl who I think was either her daughter or more likely little sister. The little girl started crying cause it hurt and the young woman started mocking her and calling her a baby. Later I stopped for gas and there was a collision in the parking lot. The one guy was actually pretty nice and since there was no damage was gonna let it go but the guy who was at fault got angry and they had to call the cops. It just seems like everywhere you go in this country people are constantly angry and fighting.

8:09 PM  
Blogger Marc L Bernstein said...

WAFers and Dr. Berman : Maybe there is enough urine ---

Can this guy really become president?

4:12 AM  
Anonymous Rusty Snag said...

In my daily perusing of the Internet I ran across this old gem. It's got Wafer and Dual Process written all over it:

Miles Deli - I heard on the radio this morning that Don Cheadle is working on a new movie about the life of Miles Davis. You probably know this already since you're tuned in to Miles Davis, but just in case, I wanted to let you know.

8:47 AM  
Blogger Sam Holloway said...

Good morning, Dr. Berman and Wafers.

I'm about halfway through Coming to Our Senses, and I'm riveted. It's not often that a nonfiction book elicits such emotional reaction and reflection. It's no exaggeration to say that this is a transformative read for me. There are times when I have to put it down and think about what the hell I was just reading. I'm also finding links to a great many things I've experienced and that I'm witnessing around me, as well. Among the more humorous references is the following interview with RuPaul, who I've always admired for his ruthlessness in openly mocking some of the more toxic elements of U.S. culture.

Thanks, Dr. B.

8:56 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Yr the ideal reader, really. Echo Pt brought the bk back into print because they regarded it as a classic.


9:03 AM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,


Re: Miles Davis biopic

Yes, many thanks. I plan to see this film very soon.

Meanwhile, enjoy a bit of Mr. Davis:

MB, Wafers-

Shades of Mittney:


12:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What do you make of the Panama scandal Wafers? It's nothing new, but there's something really overwhelmingly disgusting about the amount of douchebags involved in this. It's like the layers of shit are never ending. I wonder if we'll ever find out who's behind the leak. It'll be also interesting to see whether what happened in Iceland will happen in other countries, even though it's very unlikely.


5:37 PM  
Anonymous Dal said... * reports on the German prison system which emphasizes rehabilitation rather than punishment and allows convicts an astonishing amount of freedom * much improved over archaic U.S.

7:32 PM  
Blogger Gerald said...

Long time fan. Think you are a bit out of touch. Lefties for Trump, ask your self why?

4:03 AM  
Anonymous Rusty Snag said...

Miles - Easy to see why you love Miles Davis' music. That one piece you turned us on to ended up with me listening to his music for an hour at my desk this morning. Great stuff! I used to like John Coltrane back in the day. Maybe it's time to rekindle my interest in jazz. Thanks!

Dr. B - I re-read Chapter 7 of Neurotic Beauty last night. It was better the second time. Maybe Japan will indeed lead the way into a post-modern future.

8:17 AM  
Blogger Juliet Cash said...

Wafers, MB,

I am almost done with The Reenchantment of the World. I have read WAF and DA but neither of the two will nurture your spirit like Reenchantment does. At least to me this is a jewel, and I can't thank MB enough for delivering it to us. Haven't read your satire yet, but will do when I get a chance. Good God knows we need more jesters that mock modernity and its superficiality.

On the Panama Papers Scandal- why isn't it the main dish in our mainstream news? Deductive reasoning - and WAF- can pinpoint to the possible answer. Tax evaders are patriots in the USA. Americans could care less about who's cheating on their taxes because most of them can relate. They hate the IRS, and love and want to emulate the billionaires. Hell, not disclosing your tax returns is now a fad within the GOP party- Mittens and Trump? Didn't the current president select for his economic cabinet the same bankers who were at the helm of the 2008 real estate meltdown?; being on that list is probably a batch of honor for the political class. And the public will happily support them.
Right now I am witnessing how my next door neighbor is ripping off his home insurance by claiming that the small storm that hardly touched our neighborhood caused roof damage because a roofing company left leaflets in all of our homes on how we can milk that "wonderful opportunity to replace our roofs." Hustling the hustlers.
Just another day in the USA.

(Btw, isn't this the most revolting election ever?! And is not even halfway through it.)

10:36 AM  
Anonymous Pastrami and Coleslaw said...

Kanye: Regarding the Panama Papers, while it's great they're out there, have you noticed the western news coverage focuses on guess who, Putin and Chinese 1%. Here's a little bit about it:

"It is interesting but not at all mysterious that there are no Americans named in the Mossack Fonseca documents. The reason is simple. U.S. law so clearly favors the rich that they have no need to go offshore to form shell corporations. They can do so legally in Wyoming, Delaware or Nevada. Rich people everywhere know it too."

2:52 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Safely ensconced back in Phila. To paraphrase JFK, that was the greatest collection of minds in a pizza shop since Thomas Jefferson ate at a Washington pizza shop alone. Had a great time and doubled my friendships from 3 to 6. Man, that guy spoke superb Japanese. Anyway, I spent Tuesday walking around NYC and by 4 PM I had just about my fill of techno-douchbaggery. Really, don't American women realize how ridiculous they look with white wires hanging from their heads? Aren't women supposed to have a certain aesthetic feel that men generally lack? Anyway, recent articles say that now 40% of the American workforce is basically doing "gigs" to get by. But so long as Americans are enticed by free apps they're fine with that. Have a safe trip back.

5:19 PM  
Blogger Sarasvati said...


Here are two articles on the Panama Papers:

As is usual for me, even before I read these articles I assumed that there’s a lot more behind this than we’ll ever know and that we are somehow being manipulated.


There are many reasons voters like the Trumpenfuehrer. In the end, however, whoever is elected will have to follow The Agenda no matter what they promise, so I sometimes wonder if all the angst is just political theater.

5:31 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...


Many yrs ago, when the savings and loan scandal of the 1980s and 1990s broke, I recall my professor discussing how "fraud" and its punishment were written about in the Law Code of Hammurabi. I thought to myself: Jesus, the ancient Babylonians were more honorable than pathetic American douche bags such as Michael Milken, Charles Keating, the Keating Five! Curious that no Americans are listed in the Panama Papers... Oh, right, why go offshore when you can cheat and defraud the US government w/out punishment. Thanks Obama! Time for some pastrami.

MB, Wafers-

Andrew Bacevich interviewed by Michael Krasny:


How did yr gig at Bluestockings go? Is Hillary's Brooklyn Heights headquarters still standing? Dry? Wafers are breathless w/anticipation for any news from the Empire City.


5:42 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Bluestockings went well. Abt 40 people or so, including some bona fide Wafers. Then a couple of hours at Rosario's, solving problems of the world and making new contacts (see comment from Dan). As for Bklyn, no one showed up, which is gd for my humility; altho the fact that it was freezing may have had something to do with it. Meanwhile, Bernie won in Wisconsin, giving the progs more false hopes. I can't wait to see him embrace and endorse Hillary on nationwide TV.


8:28 PM  
Anonymous troutbum said...

Dr. MB and all Wafers worldwide:

John Michael Greer is back from his hiatus and his latest blog is titled : "The End of Ordinary Politics" found here :

Consider this gem from his post :
"The reason that millions of Americans have had their standard of living hammered for forty years, while the most affluent twenty per cent have become even more affluent, is no mystery. What happened was that corporate interests in this country, aided and abetted by a bipartisan consensus in government and cheered on by the great majority of the salary class, stripped the US economy of living wage jobs by offshoring most of America’s industrial economy, on the one hand, and flooding the domestic job market with millions of legal and illegal immigrants on the other."

It's full of smart eyed observations that only a Wafer could fully appreciate!

And, he doesn't expect some miracle of political change to actually occur, instead it's a downward spiral to the bottom.

8:15 AM  
Blogger Chad In Chicago said...

troutbum -

Thank you for bringing up John Michael Greer. I read the same post yesterday and was thinking of linking it here myself. He's really spot on in his analysis. Check out this piece he did on Trump:

I don't think you can find this kind of analysis anywhere else (well except here of course).

10:13 AM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

troutbaum - one way to look at Greer's commentary is that America took the greatest good fortune ever bestowed upon any nation or empire and squandered it in the most asinine way possible. After WW II, we had the only undamaged economy of any of the major powers combined with the seemingly unlimited resources of a vast continent at a time when the New Deal had laid down the foundation for prosperity among for the vast majority. Managed correctly, this combination could have sustained a truly great society for perhaps a couple of centuries.

Instead, in the first round of greed, big businessmen were allowed to squander many of those resources building endless suburbia (what Kunstler calls the greatest waste of resources in human history). Once the building of that wasteful infrastructure was largely complete, they then turned their attention to tearing down the New Deal consensus in order to maximize the financialization of the economy.

Now that they have sold the vast majority on the idea that the American Dream means living in a big house with a lawn in suburbia with two kids, two cars and two week vacations every year, in their short sighted greed they have yanked the rug out from under all but the top 10-20%, making it impossible for the rest to ever attain that dream. Yet they scratch their head in wonder at how so many voters now seem willing to turn to a charismatic leader who is among other things promising to punish those who put them in their current predicament.

And in this way will the vaunted "American Century" fail to last even the 100 years following 1945.

5:14 PM  
Blogger Agent00Soul said...

Hi Dr. MB - I was one of the people in the audience at Bluestockings. I've been reading your work for years but never saw you speak in person until this week. I brought a friend who has similar ideas about the USA as we do and she is now a checking your trilogy out. We couldn't make it out to pizza unfortunately but we're looking forward to future posts/interviews/appearances.

6:00 PM  
Anonymous Mohamed said...

Militarized schools

1:33 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Thank you for attending the thing at Blue. Re: future stuff: just stay tuned to the blog.


10:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Meanwhile in America:

11:53 AM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

MB, Wafers-

Another terrifying fit of laugher from Hillary:

As I stare deeply into Hillary's eyes, I'm reminded of a quote by Alexander:

"I conquered the world, but I couldn't conquer myself."


2:07 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Hope you're now safely ensconced in Mexico. As per out intermittent conversation, I mentioned a book called "The Wandering Who" Gilad Atzmon. It's a superb study of Jewish contemporary thought both in Israel and in the diaspora. I was glad you had read "The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine." It took me months to get though it; not because of it's length, but because it was difficult for me to see Jews behave that way. Along the same line, may I recommend "Against our Better Judgment" by Alison Weir which deals with how the US was used to create Israel. After reading this book you'll be looking like me how to cancel our membership in the Jewish religion.
By the way, the school I presently work at is a charter school and thus the teachers are not unionized. Today I entered a classroom to do a small reading group. I saw some stools in the corner and asked the regular teacher if I could use them for the group to sit on instead of sitting on the cold, dirty floor. She told me "No", that those were her stools and that if I needed stools I should go out and buy them myself. Another victory for anti-union sentiment.

5:32 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I sometimes wonder if she isn't actually insane.


Thanks for refs. Also check out work by Nur Masalha. Regular teacher is a true American.


11:00 AM  
Blogger Juliet Cash said...


This is the most revealing news of the day- and in total agreement with the hyper douchebaggery theory presented by MB in WAF.

According to a recent poll only one quarter of Americans gives a shit about tax evasion corruption as presented in the Panama Papers.

Which is why the Panama Papers will have zero political importance here in wonderland regardless of its findings.

Remember, tax man is the enemy of the American people. Billionaires and politicians who run away from taxes are heroeS.


11:08 AM  
Anonymous Carlos said...



2:28 PM  
Anonymous Bone Garden said...

I think there's been a month long Camus festival going on someplace in NYC, sir! There might still be a tail-end of performances/lectures to catch if you find any free time, but I'm sure you don't have much for such sight seeing!

I've been thinking about Camus a lot lately, in fact. Do any WAFers have a good bio or study of his life/work to recommend? Professor?

4:56 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

This American Life:

7:36 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

In the land of the natural born imbeciles there is little difference between "dangerous gas built up" and "mushroom smokin gun". ...,wink-wink to the jihadists.

Juliet, 'Murikns do give a Fk to things that interests them, Bieber, Kardashian and the likes.

who gives a Fk about Panama or Iraq.

10:15 AM  
Anonymous tammi said...

not to draw attention to the negative, but was curious if anyone on here has addressed or responded any of the more critical reviews for Dr. Berman's Neurotic Beauty, in particular the review headed 'Will be loved by some', written by user A. J. Sutteron, July 28, 2015. The user seems to be much more familiar with Japan than I am, but I really really loved Berman's Japanese book, and didn't have that sort of reaction after finishing it. The user also seems to not realize Dr. Berman consulted w/ Japanese colleagues before finishing the work. I can't imagine Dr. Berman was as off base as user A.J. accuses, but it's still an interesting review.


10:34 AM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,


A word of caution: I wouldn't engage a negative reviewer of MB's work, unless you are interesting in cultivating yr own personal trollfoon.

Case in point: I wrote a positive review of MB's "Neurotic Beauty" and was immediately attacked by a relentless trollfoon we called T.F. Schmendrick. It turned out that Schmendrick was the darkness reaching out to the darkness... I tell ya, I felt kinda sorry for poor Schmendrick; suggesting psychiatric help and a change in his life. Unfortunately, Schmendrick ignored my advice, blew a gasket, and went insane! He showed up on the blog and attempted to disgorge his bile w/out any consideration of others. Anyway, that's the story of Schmendrick, *my* trollfoon.


2:14 PM  
Anonymous xypeter said...

Regarding today's NYT stories on ruthless corp culture, tax apathy, and shell corps:

The reason 75% of people "don't give a shit about tax reform against trillionaires" who hide $$ on the moon, is that ppl subconsciously know America failed, including that the tax and legal system (the government) is corrupt and rigged against ordinary people.

THAT IS -- these ppl fear that they may be falsely charged any day and made paupers without a lawyer, the bankruptcy reform denies people the right to file, student loans are not dischargeable, black + poor people go to debt prisons because they can't pay trumped-up fines in small towns who fine them falsely, homeless people pay higher tax rates than Mitt, 5% of the population goes bankrupt due to med bills even w/ insurance, etc. When ordinary ppl live in subsconscious fear of govt & by-elite ruin, that the govt or elite might at any time seize their last $10, it's no surprise they are neurotically fine with tax evasion and secret offshore accounts. Because, they have generalized fear that they may someday need an "exit plan" too.

The worst consequence of government corruption is not the corruption itself, but it is the destruction of the myth that America is or ever was just. Oligarchic destruction of the national myth is a profoundly unpatriotic act because absent that myth, just how does a govt collect taxes (or do anything) absent totalitarianism? And of course, that is why we are seeing it.

3:36 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Miles makes a gd pt abt these folks, but in addn, I think there is a larger, and sadder, issue hanging over all of this. I came of age in the 50s, and during that time, dialogue was a real art, a living thing, in the US. A glorious time, really, and I learned to hone those skills in graduate schl, in the 60s. At some pt after that, the art got lost, and as a # of critics have observed, today's form of 'dialogue' is little more than a shouting match. Americans today believe that if they have a strong emotion, it's an idea; that an argument and an opinion are the same thing; and that everything can be cast in B&W--no shades of gray are welcome. There is also a childish kind of 'thinking', that if I happen to like a book, it's a good bk; and if I dislike it, it's necessarily bad. The possibility that I might dislike a bk which happens to be an excellent piece of work--this is beyond consideration.

A case in pt of the latter is the NYT review of DAA. As I pted out in a response (wh/the Times was too cowardly to publish), the 'review' didn't even deal with the contents of the bk! It offended the reviewer, so what she did was offer up a hatchet job, and then refuse to let me refute her smear. So much for "All the news that's fit to print." Jonathan Franzen, Norman Mailer, and Salman Rushdie all said Michiko had no business reviewing bks. Duh.

Much the same can be said abt the negative reviewers that show up on Amazon, or try to show up on this blog. Of course, none of my bks are perfect; whose are? But what gives the game away is the tone, something I've learned in 10 yrs of running this blog (this month is our 10th anniversary, BTW). When I started out, I had no idea how much pain, rage, and sheer poison is contained in the American soul. I found it really shocking; by now, I'm largely inured to it, tho I still find it sad. The crux of it is what I've called 'existential strain': when you can't create, you hate. There's a bitterness directed toward me and I think Wafers in general, because our goal is to put truth and light into the world, as best we can. The trollfoons and bitter reviewers would like to do this as well--to be capable of this level of discussion and analysis--but they don't have the ability, so all that's left to them is to hate, to attack, and typically out of a personal vendetta. As Miles astutely puts it, darkness reaching out to the darkness. What we get says more abt them, than abt my work. What's involved in a hatchet job is that you construct a caricature of the author's work, and then attack the caricature. Anyone can do this, of course, but it's worse than dishonest: it's sick.

I've done my best to wake them up; to say, You don't hafta live this way. The best revenge is living well, etc. All that does is enrage them more, because living well is outside of their grasp. I've also pointed out that if yr that focused on me, or any individual or ism or whatever, then you have no real identity yourself. What you have is (Hegel) a negative identity, one based on negation rather than affirmation. This also falls on deaf ears--they just don't get it. Finally, it's elementary psychology, that attraction and repulsion have the same root, and that the opposite of hatred is not love, but apathy. So what's going on toward myself is really love that got twisted, that has no healthy outlet, and so shows up as hatred. The one thing these folks surely don't have is apathy.

(continued below)

5:06 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Again, this is not to say that a mature, reasoned critique cannot be made of all of my bks; I'm sure it can. But as I said, the tone is the giveaway: the goal is to vent, to discharge bile, to discredit the author out of one's own rage and pain. For many of these reviewers, I could write a boring, empirical history of the paper clip, or of canned tuna fish, and they would respond with a vicious attack. They just don't understand the addictive quality of their behavior (an addict can't just walk away from the source of his addiction; the pull is too powerful).

Most worrisome is that 'existential strain' is the cause of a lot of evil in the world, and what I have seen over the years is precisely this poison in the soul, from bitter reviewers and trollfoons. How else to explain Hitler, or Trump? Trump shows how widespread this phenomenon is in American society.

Finally, where does that leave the author who is not after sound bites, commercial success, or saying what the majority wish to hear? You just have to resign yourself to the fact that there is a great deal of sickness, and evil, in the world, and continue to do your best in spite of that. Arab proverb: "The dogs bark, but the caravan moves on." Of course, one wd like to believe that these people will have a conversion experience, or that they will be marginalized; but the former almost never happens, and the latter--well, given the direction in which the US is headed these days, I'm quite sure it will be folks like myself who will be marginalized (or worse).

I didn't expect to write this much, or really, to address the subject at all, since it is quite frankly a depressing one. But having said this much, let me add something from a philosopher who had a great impact on my work, Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Sarah Bakewell has an excellent chapter on him in her recent work, "At the Existentialist Café." She quotes M-P as saying that the philosopher moves back and forth between evidence and ambiguity, and has a strong taste for both. This, he wrote, "leads back without ceasing from knowledge to ignorance, from ignorance to knowledge." To put it another way, she says, we move between knowledge and questioning, and "We can never move definitively from ignorance to certainty, for the thread of the inquiry will constantly lead us back to ignorance again." This is my ideal as well.


5:08 PM  
Anonymous El Alamein said...

Peter - "The worst consequence of government corruption is not the corruption itself, but it is the destruction of the myth that America is or ever was just." Couldn't agree more. This is why Hunter S. Thompson wrote in his famous obituary of Nixon that he "poisoned our waters forever" and "broke the heart of the American Dream". Even though his crimes paled in comparison to those of later administrations, he created a corrosive cynicism that allowed a more indifferent public to shrug off those abuses.

MB - Before I had read any of your work, I came across Kakutani's review, and suspected that she was just using shoehorning your work into her existing ideological farmework. This sentence gave it away: "But his apparent hatred of all things American will give right-wing ideologues like Bill O'Reilly and Ann Coulter an opportunity to tar and feather those citizens who do not share Mr. Berman's contempt for this country but who happen to share his concern about the Iraq war and the policies of the current Bush administration." Shame on you for not staying within the acceptable bounds of loyal opposition! We must not offend the cheerleaders for imperialism in our fight against it!


10:13 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

Browsing the YouTubes, I came across a February 2012 interview/Q and A session with one of my favorite social commentators, Fran Lebowitz, at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, CA.

At 35 minutes in, she responds to a question about the presidential campaign of Rick Santorum, and the presidencies of Bush the Younger, and the Gipper. Mutatis mutandis, she could be talking about Drumpf and the whole mishegoss.

You may enjoy watching the whole thing. Smart and decidedly acerbic, this lady.


11:01 PM  
Anonymous troutbum said...

Dr. MB and fellow Wafers,

There's a big story developing regarding the increasing death rates of rural white people. The Washington Post has the details here :

Quoting : " ...for white women in what should be the prime of their lives, death rates have spiked upward. In one of the hardest-hit groups — rural white women in their late 40s — the death rate has risen by 30 percent.....The things that reduce the risk of death are now being overwhelmed by things that elevate it, including opioid abuse, heavy drinking, smoking and other self-destructive behaviors."

It's almost no surprise, once you understand the concept of Existential Strain, rising death rates is one manifestation.
And as always, don't miss the readers comments at the end of the article.

1:29 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Heads in Rumps Dept.:

Head Finally Out of Rump Dept.:

Maybe I shd start a newsletter called Duh!


9:09 AM  
Anonymous Pastrami and Coleslaw said...

Bone: Try this Camus bio, it's older but still good:

MB: That NYT piece you posted ... Jeezus! If that isn't a takedown of techno-uptopia-douchbaggery, I don't know what is. And to think, people look up to these places and CEOs!

11:25 AM  
Anonymous vanillasky said...

Boo hoo, poor whites are having a hard time. They're a bunch of racist ignorant inbred hicks and deserve to have the stool kicked from under them. Let them all dangle.

1:01 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

MB: That was easily the best essay Hedges has ever written. No more of the "when the masses rise up against the elites" nonsense he has espoused in the past.

And in regards to that CNN article about the Taliban's latest advances, I found this quote to be particularly enlightening, but not in the way the speaker intended:

"2015 was a bad year, but I attribute most of those (failings) to failures of leadership," Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, the U.S. forces' deputy chief of staff for operations, told CNN.

Of course, bad leadership pretty well sums up the entire U.S.-led effort in Afghanistan.

4:05 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


True, except it's basically a riff on what I've been saying since 2000, including the part abt civilizations committing suicide. He's a bit slow, but he finally woke up. I'm now waiting for him to recognize the fact that Americans are stupid and violent--the third rail of American politics. Will he touch it? We all (Mencken, Carlin, Vidal, and moi) wait with bated breath.


Why single out poor whites? The whole country is a collection of turkeys, no? And the stool will be kicked *out* of them, not out from under them. Which is a lot of stool, when you think abt it.


4:59 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

“Donald J Trump’s vision for the future of our nation is as deeply disturbing as it is profoundly un-American,” it reads.
Un-American? Read "People's History" by Zinn and "Imperial Cruise" by Bradley. Preemptive strike on contrived threat is quintessential WASP 'merican since the pilgrims landed like flies on the "thanksgiving" plate of the Indians. "War is the force that gives us meaning" wrote Chris Hedges. Trump is just updating to limelight the new boogey.

Bogey detector at arpts and border crossings:: traveling with one-way ticket, too many countries visited, staying too long or too short abroad, carrying too much money or too little money, looking nervous or looking chill, 'mericans acting non-american, non-americans acting 'merican, self employed or unemployed, highly educated or hobo, smartypants without facebook or linkedin accounts, not found in google search or too many hits, carrying too much or too few luggage, too early or too late at checkin, clothing not appropriate for status, impatient or nonchalant, too polite or too cocky, too forthcoming with answers or cautious, dry mouth and throat swallowing, avoiding eye contact or blinking stare ...and any "something about the traveler is not right" fantasy the cbp goon has on his mind that day after watching the TV news the previous nite. See page#14 to save ourself from getting droned for "lint-picking" >

We're all on O'bummers Tuesday kill-List. It just wasn't our day yet. But that'll soon be expedited by the next thug-in-chief at the Whiteman's House. Hamdullah 'muriknDream. Now go back to sleep and await your turn.

4:59 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,


Nice to see Chris Hedges begin to release himself from the progressive prison of hope. It's a bit uncanny tho, because Hedges was such a true believer that the US could and should be saved, ultimately. Better late than never, I suppose. Also, Hedges should cite his work. He has had problems w/plagarism b4, of course, but obviously has learned nothing. His phrasing is incredibly similar to yr phrasing, MB.

On a similar note, I'm reading Andrew Bacevich's new book, "America's War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History." It's quite good, but I hafta say that Bacevich's deep argument about *why* the US engaged the Middle East is very similar to yr analysis in WAF and QOV. Bacevich contends that US engagement w/the Middle East has a lot to do w/the collapse of the Soviet Union, our need to redefine ourselves, find a new enemy, and pursue a civilizing mission. Unless I've missed it somehow, I've seen zero references to yr work in his research. I tell ya, this kinda stuff pisses me off.


5:36 PM  
Blogger Agent00Soul said...

I found this link from the BBC about how dangerous too much optimism can be. It's good listening for those of us who get accused of there being nothing constructive with our views. All though, being British, they concentrate a little too much on humor:

5:54 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Both these guys have done a lot of wholesale "borrowing," I fear; there's a lot more I cd say, but let me just leave it at that. It's also the case that they can do it with impunity: I'm pretty small potatoes, in terms of cultural visibility. But this need to take all the credit for oneself is an important object lesson: people who do that, if they got into power, probably wdn't be much better than the folks they are fighting against. The issue finally isn't Left vs. Right, when you think abt it.


6:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When Hedges learns to make a joke in one of his articles, he will have his head out of his rump. Reading this last lament of his, it still seems like very far off! "We're all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars" said Oscar Wilde. Hedges gets the first part of this quote, but not the second one. Wafers get both.

6:40 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...


Please allow me to fix a ridiculous flub in my previous post: DAA instead of WAF in paragraph #2. Sorry for this 2nd post violation. Have a nice evening.


7:07 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Gd pt. I fear humor is not his strong suit, in any case.


7:56 PM  
Anonymous Sean Kerrigan said...

When asked to describe "the issue," I think (but rarely say aloud) that it's really about the suppression of the weak by the strong. The strong want centralized power, control, and most of all "more." The weak can sometimes fight back against this, but to do so even somewhat effectively, they need to employ the methods of hierarchy and control that they are fighting against.

The so called 'left' likes to point to past successes like the New Deal that progress is possible, but civilization has marched onward, getting more and more centralized and oppressive, more omnipotent and omnipresent, reversing past successes and making life more meaningless all the time. Looking at this with the broadest view possible, this is a war that is clearly being lost.

Also, I hope no one minds a short plug, but I just published a book titled "Bureaucratic Insanity" and hope you'd take a look if you get the chance:

8:01 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Looks gd! Thanks for tipping us off. Catchy title, tho I wd have preferred "Americans Have Their Heads in Their Rear Ends and Are Rolling Around Like Doughnuts." More picturesque, I think. Feel free to use it for the title of yr next bk.


8:25 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Looking ahead...

This is a very interesting article. There will come a time when Hillary will defeat Bernie, and Bernie will embrace and endorse her candidacy. I cd be wrong, but it seems to me that both of these things will come to pass. My 3rd prediction: when that happens, Bernie supporters will claim that the system was rigged, and that Hillary stole the nomination. Will this be true?

For me, two things abt this campaign were obvious from the start:

1. Bernie had no chance at all, because Hillary had the corporate big money interests behind her, the Democratic machine, and there was no way they wd let Bernie defeat her.
2. If by some miracle Bernie got elected president, the constraints of the govt, esp. special interest groups, Wall St., corporations, and the military, wd make sure he cdn't do even 5% of what he promised on the campaign trail.

I still believe #2 is correct. Bernie chose to run as a Democrat and that means he hasta stay within the mainstream corporate world. As I've said repeatedly, if elections cd chg anything, they wd be declared illegal. To think that substantive left-wing chg can occur within the electoral system, as the Bernophiles apparently do, is to live in fantasy.

But what abt #1? My reasoning here is that our 'democratic' system has all kinds of oddball quirks in it. Bernie has won some states and walked away with less delegates than Clinton has, for example. Then there is the strange mix of states that operate on a winner-take-all basis and those that don't. Finally, there's the existence of superdelegates, whatever that means, who can do whatever the hell they want. This is a very strange type of democracy, it seems to me; it hardly represents the 'will of the people'.

However, this Wash Post essay by Philip Bump (awful name) wd suggest that my reasoning regarding #1 is wrong. His major pt is that Bernie's 'momentum' is deceptive, in that he is winning in small states with low delegate counts and with mostly white populations, and this is why Hillary is ahead. Hillary wins in large states with high #s of minority groups and large #s of pledged delegates. Here is his crucial pt:

"She's winning in the popular vote by 2.4 million votes — more than a third more than Sanders has in total. In part that’s because Sanders is winning lower-turnout caucuses, but it’s mostly because he’s winning smaller states."

(continued below)

9:40 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Exactly why Bernie has little appeal for blacks and Hispanics, and why his 'radical' message and program seems to attract largely the white and the young, is a question worth debating, to be sure. But these are the facts, and as the primaries take us to NY, Pennsylvania, and Cal, Hillary is very likely to increase her lead over the Bern. In short, says Bump, democracy does seem to be working here, and no rigging is necessary for Hillary: more people want her than want Bernie, end of story.

It's pretty depressing, of course: she will just continue the status quo, while Bernie will at least try to effect significant changes--changes that wd certainly benefit minority groups. But--again--for whatever reason, those groups aren't interested in his causes (climate change, breaking up big banks, taxing the rich, greater social equality, etc.); they identify with Hillary, which is why she has a hefty lead both in delegates and in the popular vote. So when the dust settles, the whites and the young will probably claim the system was rigged in favor of Hillary, but what if they are wrong? What if it's simply the case that most Americans (even beyond minority groups) prefer what she has to offer (bupkis) as opposed to what Bernie says he's offering?

This might mean that the idealistic delusion of the Bernophiles is not merely #2, above, but also the notion that most Americans *want* what Bernie is offering, and what he stands for. It wd seem that they don't, and so this is also something worth discussing. All I can think of at this pt is that Pew Trust poll I've cited a # of times, indicating that the 99% are not angry at the 1%, do not want to revolt against the elite, but rather--wish to become part of it. John Steinbeck once wrote that socialism--which is what Bernie is basically offering, in an FDR variety of it--never had a chance in America because the poor regarded themselves as "temporarily embarrassed millionaires."

So now we come to the question of ethnic factors. Blacks and Hispanics are probably more hopeful of the American Dream than are whites and young people. I don't know exactly who these whites and young people are, but it's possible that they may think the A.D. is a crock of shit, and that their values are somewhat Waferish in nature. Hence, the attraction to Bernie. Proportionately speaking, blacks and Hispanics have large %s of poor people in their populations (I'm assuming poor whites are going for Trump), and they are still hoping their ship will come in, someday, somehow. Hence, Hillary with her $2 billion in the bank represents the A.D., and there are many more people who prefer the roulette wheel of capitalism to the stability of a quasi-socialist regime. True, those people wd live better lives under the latter than the former, but the A.D., as I once said, represents "The Greatest Story Ever Sold."

What will become of Bernie in the aftermath of his defeat, and his embrace of Hillary? John Kenneth Galbraith, who was also a proponent of a Scandanavian-style socialism for America, believed that JFK appointed him ambassador to India to get him as far away from the US as possible, so that he couldn't 'infect' the American people with that alternative vision. I'm guessing something similar is in store for Bernie. He'll have a house in Delhi, his young white acolytes will come to visit him, and he'll have his cook serve them chicken tikka masala. Not exactly the White House, but there are worse fates, I suppose.


9:43 PM  
Anonymous El Alamein said...

I tend to think that as the economy gets worse, socialism will be a more appealing option. As some combination of you and Brecht might say, the unconscious programming of the New Jerusalem and the Infinite Frontier runs terribly deep in the psyche of the American, but it does not run deeper than eating.

Of course, rather than embrace socialism the following 2 possibilities are much more likely:

1) The anger is channeled more effectively by the Right than the Left (see: the last 30 years).

2) An FDR-type seeks to preserve the system with modest, but much-needed liberal reform.

Not only might 2 be too little too late, FDR was perhaps the most brilliant political operator in American history, and he had to move heaven and earth to do what he did. Bernie Sanders might be a nice guy and all, but he ain't no FDR. I can't imagine who is in this day and age.

10:44 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Tammi - As far as the review you mentioned, it seems perfectly fine. The reviewer mentions several authors whose works might be of help and add additional viewpoints of Japanese life. If you want to understand where the reviewer is coming from, and how he sees Berman's work, you must explore the alternatives he mentions as evidence of his claims. He agrees with Berman's viewpoint that Japan may be the model of a post-capitalist society, yet disagrees with his summation of Japanese life.

I remember a passage in Public Opinion, a quote by G.K. Chesterton which takes note of several men of different ideologies meeting under a street lamp for their own reasons. In this sense different thought patterns come to the same conclusion. Public Opinion itself is a pretty good read. The aforementioned quote can be found on page 17:

In the meantime check out this series that finds some optimism in the world:

12:21 AM  
Blogger Alogon said...

Morris Berman writes:

1. Bernie had no chance at all, because Hillary had the corporate big money interests behind her, the Democratic machine, and there was no way they wd let Bernie defeat her.
2. If by some miracle Bernie got elected president, the constraints of the govt, esp. special interest groups, Wall St., corporations, and the military, wd make sure he cdn't do even 5% of what he promised on the campaign trail.

I still believe #2 is correct.

In the Republican party, Jeb Bush had the big budget to spend, as well as probably the blessing of the party's kingmakers, and what did they do for him?

As despicable as the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision is, I doubt that people listen as closely when money talks (or shouts) as they used to do. What do campaigns do with all this money? Apparently, television advertising is still considered the most effective way to spend it, but TV ratings have been declining for many years.

What about Internet advertising? It's a crowded field already. During an hour on a major web site, hundreds of ads try to crawl into our field of vision like insects. Learning to tune them out is a basic survival skill.

On the other hand, data mining enables sophisticated targeting. It is Google's uniquely comprehensive access to the interests and habits of millions of individuals in cyberspace that turned it from a venture capitalist's headache to a wildly successful cash cow. This data can be "monetized" by selling it to advertisers. In the case of politicians, they can use it to try to reach everyone, but the message varies and is carefully chosen. Even if on our own initiative we visit a well-funded candidate's web site, what we see there could be tailored to our identity according to a database. The old politician's trick of talking out of both sides of his mouth will work better than ever before. This, rather than broadcast TV, is probably the future for the use of campaign funds.

5:06 AM  
Anonymous Golf Pro said...

There's a Belgian take on Trump and Sanders here:

I don't think what is happening in the US is unique. We're seeing "insurgent" candidates in Europe too - Le Pen, Wilders on the right, Corbyn on the left. There is a building opposition to the status quo across the Western political scene, but its still far from being in a decisive position. I think there's a widespread change of consciousness underway, and for better or worse, these politicians are reflective of that.

5:27 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I think you need to add that given Bump's argument, I'm beginning to doubt my original belief in #1.

ps to Tammi-

Contra Mr. James, I don't feel Sutter's review is 'perfectly fine'. At one pt Sutter says he found the book 'disgusting'. This is what I mean by tone, and I don't see this sort of thing as perfectly fine. It also seems to be the case that Sutter is grinding an axe against the U of Tokyo and my brief ass'n with it; he finds it 'elitist'. What this has to do with the accuracy of my work I'm not sure, but it sounds like he's at a different university, one that doesn't have the same status as U of T, and that this is a sore pt for him. All in all, this review doesn't strike me as an example of objective analysis and evaluation.

Be that as it may, I do want to say this, in his favor: I'm not a Japan expert, and never claimed to be. I make it clear that I was in the country only for several months, and do not speak or read Japanese. "Neurotic Beauty" is just one outsider's take on Japan, and I wd certainly encourage anyone interested in the country to read lots of bks abt it, including ones that wd disagree with my own.

However, Sutter seems to think that unless you've lived there for several years, and are fluent in the language, you can't write a gd bk abt the country. Problem: one of the best bks ever written abt Japan, and much admired by the Japanese as a reliable portrait of Japanese society, is the one by Ruth Benedict, who also had no knowledge of the language, and who never traveled to Japan at all. So go figure. I shd also add that Peter Van Buren, who does speak Japanese, is married to a Japanese woman, and who is very familiar with the culture, wrote a very favorable review of my bk in the Huffington Post. Is Sutter a more reliable guide to my bk than Van Buren? On what basis?

Or another case in pt: Sutter finds my discussion of the sketch on a napkin, by a Japanese friend, ridiculous. Is it? That friend is bilingual, lived in the US for 17 years, and worked for many years for both Japanese and American companies. I suspect she knows a bit more about how the two types of companies approach production than Sutter does. I shd add that in all cases, of interviews I had with Japanese people, I felt they were extremely honest, reliable, and well-informed; NB is not some sort of fantasy I concocted out of thin air.

Yet another: I make it clear (see Appendix III) that given my extended discussion with Graham Parkes, the question of Zen amorality is one that remains open, altho I do think--and many scholars agree with me--that this type of Buddhism has the capacity to adjust to anything. I cite D.T. Suzuki, for example--a pretty heavy hitter--that fascism can and did mesh with Zen pretty easily. I suspect he's a more profound student of Japanese culture than Mr. Sutter is.

I cd go on in this vein, and refute Sutter's attack line by line, but I think you get my pt. (Also, if I were to do this with every neg. review I've received over the yrs, that wd become my life, time-wise. It doesn't really appeal.) I'm proud of NB; I think it presents a rich and complex analysis of a rich and complex culture. And I believe that anyone interested in Japan can benefit from reading the bk, altho I obviously agree w/Sutter, that one shd read more than one bk abt the country (or abt anything, really).

Here's my major regret: I have not been able to get a Japanese publishing house to do a translation. I asked Peter Van Buren abt this, and his take is that the consideration is similar to that of American publishers: it's not commercially viable. It's more than 500 pages long; the argument is quite dense; and there are ftnote discussions that go on for pages. Production of a Japanese edition, Peter told me, would be quite expensive, and widespread popular sales are not very likely. Publishers are not eager to take a loss, in short.

(continued below)

6:22 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

But the regret I have is that the Japanese are, as a people, very interested in what outsiders think of them, and if the bk were available in translation, it could very well spark a debate within Japan, esp. since a lot of what I say is controversial. Well, I'm no Ruth Benedict, but it's interesting that in the US, (low) sales of her bk were largely confined to academic circles, whereas it sold nearly 3 million copies in Japanese translation(!), is still assigned as an undergraduate text, and all in all, generated a discussion that benefited Japan greatly. Japan and the Japanese were very kind to me, very helpful, and I wish I had the oppty to return the favor.

Anyway, enuf o' that. I regret that Sutter chose to trash the bk, ignore anything positive about it, and opt for attack mode and ridicule as opposed to a more sophisticated discussion. (As we know, the Internet lends itself to this low-level style of commentary.) But maybe it's just as well. As I said, I don't have the time or inclination to debate my reviewers; and to readers in general, all I can say is: put these types of very biased reviews aside, and read the bk for yourself, see what you think.


6:26 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Apropos of "The Man Without Qualities," I wanted to once again mention Sarah Bakewell's new bk, "At the Existentialist Café," a truly fabulous read. She says that the key existentialist legacy is the search for authenticity. I suspect George Haskel wd have agreed.


7:16 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Watch starting 2:05 min timeline.

"99% are not angry at the 1%, do not want to revolt against the elite, but rather--wish to become part of it."
Same mindset for the 99% blacks in this country. They just wanna be "white". They are the "temporarily embarrassed " ones. They would use money to bleach their skins like Michael Jackson to join the dominant class. Only with power they will be allowed to interbreed with the dominant class and live in suburbia like Clarence Thomas and OJ Simpson. The unconscious desire is to dominate and not to be free. It is actually a human trait and nothing particular to any color or race. That's why the white underclass who are supporting Trump want to regain their lost power, to dominate on the other, whosoever the other might be as defined by the dominant horde. Many blacks don't want to know that 3 of the 6 Baltimore cops who broke Freddie Gray's neck were black. They were enjoying the same power trip as any white. Chronic victims when they acquire power become the worst victimizers. A similar case can be made of Israeli violent domination on the Palestinians.

The outcast gays and the bullied-in-their-childhood techies are similarly in a power-grab struggle. They too want power (of wealth) to dominate on the "other".

12:38 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

This American Life:

Connecticut woman calls 911 over botched pizza delivery order:

Different Strokes Dept.:


4:56 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


The # of utter imbeciles in the US is rising to asymptotic proportions. Now I have a new hero: Telly Shadell Corey, who beat his meat on a bus for 3 hrs. Check out the guy's eyes: you are looking into the future of America. Can we fix him up with Shaneka Torres? Put him on the VP ticket w/Hillary?


5:21 PM  
Blogger Marc L Bernstein said...

They're neurotic allright. Whether or not they're beautiful depends on your perspective.

some excerpts from the article :

Yamano, 42, is the highest earner of the three. He’s also, though married, apparently the loneliest: “Two weeks will go by without me saying a word to my family.” His two daughters despise him, his wife won’t look at him. “The harder I work for them, the less they know I exist.” When he does come home, “I go straight to my own room with my convenience-store bento. I come out only to use the bath and toilet.”

"So Japan, with all its advantages, ranks 53rd in this year’s report, down from 46th in last year’s. "

"Happiest of all are the developed countries that make the fewest international headlines: Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, Finland, Canada, Holland, New Zealand, Australia, Sweden. That’s the top 10. The U.S. is 13th, Germany 16th, Britain 23rd, France 32nd."

Oh well, Einstein suggested that a person should seek to be a loner and to focus on important creative work, rather than to seek "happiness", whatever that is.

7:48 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

MB - My take on the dynamic in the Dem party is this: that it is Sanders's young supporters, not the poor minority Clinton supporters, who really want to be a part of the system. Many of them are recent college grads with liberal arts degrees and huge student loan debt who are working as Starbuck baristas and still living at home with their parents, but were "promised" a ticket to the American Dream if they got good grades and stayed out of trouble.

These are older versions of the kids that teachers on this site are always complaining about, saying they have no real interest in the subject matter of their classes but just want to know what they have to do to pass the tests. Now they look around and see no real future for themselves, are pissed off and have latched on to the one acceptable candidate who is promising to make the system work for people like them again.

Meanwhile, the poor minority Clinton supporters are most likely the typical "low information" voters, partly because many are too busy working two jobs to keep themselves and their families from becoming homeless. They likely had never heard of Sanders and have no real idea who he is or what he stands for. But they do know Hillary, and they likely know that most of their own "leaders" have endorsed her.

What will be interesting is to see what Sanders demands of Clinton in order to win his endorsement, because she needs it badly or most of his supporters are likely to give her the finger and stay home in November. Secretary of State like Obama gave her is out because foreign policy isn't his thing. Personally, I hope he demands to be made Secretary of Treasury, just so we can how Hillary's Wall Street buddies react.

10:09 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Interesting angle, and you cd be rt. As for buying off Bernie: I can't see him withholding endorsement of La Douche in any scenario, whether she promises him anything or not. He will stay within the umbrella of the Dems, I'm guessing.

Of course, that anyone cd think that any of this shit is important, is, from the standpt of reality, quite nuts, as well as ho hum.


10:18 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

[Bill Hicks]

"... I hope he demands to be made Secretary of Treasury, just so we can how Hillary's Wall Street buddies react."

They'd probably react just as Lloyd Blankfein and his board did when the $5.1 billion settlement was reached yesterday in the case of the 2006 subprime mortgage fraud. The New York magazine story says that Goldman Sachs will end up paying "far less" than the settlement sum, and in fact will even be able to claim tax credits for some of their payout. See the story here:

It won't matter whom Hillary chooses for Treasury or Fed or any other verkakte office in this fershlugginer government. Or Donald Trump or Ted Cruz or whoever else, should the Republican candidate prevail.

It's always worthwhile to revisit the commentaries of George Denis Patrick Carlin. Like this one:

11:15 PM  
Anonymous lack of coherence said...

I thought you'd like this:

In one strikingly depressing scene in his recent book Don’t Even Think About It, climate change activist George Marshall interviews the Nobel prizewinning psychologist Daniel Kahneman, the leading scholar of cognitive biases, and tries to nudge him into saying that understanding our brains’ limitations will, at the very least, make it easier to overcome them. “I’m not very optimistic about that,” Kahneman replies, despondently sipping tomato soup. “No amount of psychological awareness will overcome people’s reluctance to lower their standard of living. So that’s my bottom line: there is not much hope. I’m thoroughly pessimistic. I’m sorry.” The pessimism of experts provides yet another reason to pay attention to something else, anything else, instead of climate change: why choose to spend your days feeling relentlessly depressed?

12:15 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Gd use of Yiddish, boychik. We have entered a period of total meshugas, and are now wallowing in dreck.


4:02 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Now this I really enjoyed:

I hope to see more of this, including students slapping their teachers. Since the 'learning' going on in our schools amounts to bupkis, why not just spend the day slapping each other? Be sure to look into the teacher's eyes: there, you will see the future of America. My rec for a Democratic ticket:

Pres: Telly Shadell Corey (see above)
VP: Mary Hastings

Telly will sit in the Oval Office and beat his meat all day long, and Mary will slap anyone who comes by the W.H. It cd hardly be worse than what we've got now.


4:22 AM  
Blogger Alogon said...

Morris Berman writes:

>I hope to see more of this, including students slapping their teachers.

Perhaps this idea has become a meme. I was about to provide the link below in response to another post above, but you've provided an even better launch point.

Geoffrey Vaughan makes a rather elaborate analogy between what is happening in American academia and Aristophenes' comedy "The Clouds." In this comedy, a youth (student), after a bit of schooling from Socrates (professor), claims a right to beat his parents (school administrators). Socrates has "radicalized" students in ways that mystify the chorus (general public). Eventually Socrates' school is deliberately burned down.

Vaughan notes Marx: "Karl Marx wrote that history repeats itself, first as tragedy then as farce. At least in the case of higher education he had it backwards. What was written as a comedy is playing itself out as a tragedy."

7:30 AM  
Blogger ab645471 said...

Two interesting pieces of news by any and all means further confirming that Wafers are the most brilliant people to have ever walked the surface of the Earth.

(With no comments):

And don't know what to do concerning ISIS? "Listen to Bono, of course" or "how come didn't we come up with this idea much sooner":

For those of you who may not know who "Bono" is (I almost didn't), and may read too much of Homer or Nietzche, the man is simply the lead singer of the U2, which are true icons of the masses on a planetary/intercontinental scale - air, sea, land.

8:47 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Alogon, ab-

What we've finally got is a joke nation filled w/joke people: an obvious fact that the progs have overlooked. H.L. Mencken predicted, in 1920, that eventually a moron wd be in the W.H. Well, we've had that. What he didn't predict is that there would be 322 million morons in the streets. Anyway, I'm hoping the country officially institutes a "Slap a Teacher Week" for high schls, and a "Political Correctness Week" for colleges (actually, Day wd be more accurate, if it were every day).

I studied Russian in university, and by my 2nd yr I was able to read Pravda w/o a dictionary. Except that it was extremely boring. Every day, the headline was roughly the same: "Millions Enslaved Under Capitalism." I finally decided Pushkin was more interesting. Anyway, what would be a good daily headline for the NYT? I'm thinking: "Millions of Americans Have Their Heads in Their Rumps." This I would not find boring; one can't say it enuf.


9:07 AM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...


Amy Schumer: Knock knock!
Tehran audience: Who's there?
Amy: Iran
Audience: Iran who?
Amy: I ran over here to tell you this!

Amy: Knock knock!
Audience: Who's there?
Amy: Knish
Audience: Knish who?
Amy: Knish me, you won't regret it!


12:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am in Croatia right now and witnessed an interesting scene yesterday. I was sitting on a coffee terrace by the sea and some american student tourists were sitting at a table behind me. At one point, one of them stood up from the table to go check what kind of desserts were available from the menu in front of the restaurant. She started shouting the dessert items to her friends when one of her friends started laughing and said "stop it, you're really not helping americans' reputation abroad". To which she replied: "well you know what they say: 'if you can't hear americans, that means there aren't any!'" making all her friends laugh. Good thing I finished my beer by then, I paid and left straight away.


12:34 PM  
Blogger Agent00Soul said...

Kanye - I like that story.

Another fun thing to do when travelling abroad: ask a lot of very earnest, polite questions to the locals about what's going on politically/socially etc in the area and sit back and enjoy as the most awful things come out of their mouths. I got a ton of nasty, racist comments about migrants and Greeks when I was in Germany and Denmark earlier this year. This also works great when travelling domestically in the US.

2:53 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Recently a friend exhorted me to register to vote; in fact I felt unpleasantly pressured by him. I told him that Bernie is the only candidate on offer who strikes me as remotely palatable. I didn't tell him that at this point I no longer wish to participate in the karma of this country in any way, shape or form, by voting or any other species of endorsement that I can possibly withhold or withdraw. I wish to be liberated from it.

What is our karma? For one thing, I think it's very likely we kill kids just about every day. Since '03, we've probably murdered hundreds of thousands of children in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, Syria, Honduras and any number of other places. What do our big-hearted anti-war activists have to say about this? What is the highly moral response of our Peace movement? Well, we haven't got one, to speak of. Killing other people, including their kids, is hunky dory & A-OK to most Americans, as long as they don't have to hear about it, don't have to see any disturbingly graphic pictures of the facts and as long as it keeps the price of gasoline down for their SUVs so they can keep on driving to the mall. And voting for Bernie will not improve the situation.

I think that in aspiring to be freed from this national karma and in hoping to escape to some less evil country, I am really asking for a very great boon. With that hope in mind, I continue studying Spanish, and am happy to say I'm making excellent progress. With luck, I hope to be fluent within a year.

5:36 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

Got a couple of more DBOOCs to add to the cabinet of the Corey/Hastings administration:

And in "progressives who totally miss the larger point" department, we have the mayor of Portland, Oregon, no doubt feeling triumphant because he got the navy to move the christening of the newly built USS Portland from Mississippi to Oregon because of his objection to that state's anti-LGBT law. Of course were he a REAL progressive he would tell the navy that Portland would prefer not to have ANY warships named after the city. Because in the average progressive's mind, discrimination is worse than unlimited warfare all over the globe that kills countless thousands every year.

6:34 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


That warms the cockles of my heart, really. As for Corey, imagine if he had been elected pres in 2008, then spent the next 8 yrs in the Oval Office beating his meat. Exactly how wd that be any different from what Obama was doing in the O.O. during that time?


7:17 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I've been rdg vol. 2 of Janet Browne's biography of Darwin. By 1858, the yr b4 the publication of "Origin of Species," the cat was out of the bag, that the motor of evolution was variation (mutability) plus natural selection. Darwin wrote to the botanist Joseph Hooker, "You cannot imagine how pleased I am that the notion of natural selection has acted as a purgative on your bowels of immutability."

This is a great phrase, 'bowels of immutability,' and led me to think of the progs, naturally enuf, because their bowels are immutable. They were all agog in 1992, that we were ridding ourselves of Bush Sr., and ushering in a new liberal age with Bill Clinton. But Bill proved to be a big disappointment: in essence, a Republican with faux liberal rhetoric. And then came the dark years of Bush Jr. But wait!, they said, in 2008: here we have a black liberal Democrat, who says all the rt things. Once he gets elected, everything will be transformed. Their eyes were glazed with joy.

Problem: the black liberal Democrat, like Bill, also proved to be a disappointment. Even worse, the guy was full of shit, and the country much worse off in 2016 than it had been in 2008. What would an intelligent person conclude? That it makes no difference *who* gets elected; it's always business as usual. But no, given their immutable bowels, the progs said: "Look at Bernie! All the anti-corporate rhetoric! Once he gets into office, it will all be different."

Now as we all know, Bernie won't get into office. April 19 is the NY primary, and polls have him trailing the Botox Beauty by double digits. Due to a large nonwhite pop. in NY, the douche baguette leads Sanders 51%-39% among New York Democrats, giving her a delegate lead that he will not be able to reverse. In 6 days, a Botox presidency will be pretty much in the bag.

But suppose some wild fluke occurred, and polls notwithstanding, Bernie triumphed over Plastic Face, then over Donald the Douche, and wound up in the Oval Office. The progs wd go nuts w/joy (once again). But as the yrs passed and Bernie wasn't able to make any of the changes he wanted to, the joy wd fade. He wd become 'practical', following the basic establishment line. And then it would be 2024, and because of the immutability of their bowels, the progs would *not* say: "It makes no difference who gets elected." No; they would start looking around for the next liberal hero, Joe Blow. "Once Joe Blow gets into office, we'll be able to turn the country around."

Like most Americans, the progs are not very bright. But beyond that, there is the problem Darwin pointed out to Hooker: the bowels of immutability. There will be no enema day for the progs, my friends; no purgative, no 'aha' moment. As the country disintegrates and goes down the toilet, we shall find the progs beating the bushes for the next 'progressive' candidate who can be counted on to save America.

Poor, poor progs, and poor America.


8:16 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Techno-Buffoonery Dept.:

9:28 PM  
Blogger ab645471 said...

In my previous post I have, as usual, misspelled the (glorious) name Nietzsche as Nietzche.

Correction made. I can go to sleep now.

8:47 AM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Hello Wafers:

After reading:

"You cannot imagine how pleased I am that the notion of natural selection has acted as a purgative on your bowels of immutability."

I thought that it would be difficult to find comparable eloquence anywhere in the English-speaking world today. Speaking of devolution and the immutable, today's equivalent would be "How's That Hopey Changey Stuff Workin' Out for Ya?"

I discovered something in class the other day that I found shocking. Today's 20-year-olds aren't concerned about being killed in a nuclear war. "The Bomb" isn't something they think about. I suppose being born after the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War is the reason, but as someone born in the middle of the Cold War, I found the attitude incredible, even though I understand it intellectually.

I talked to my younger brother about this a few years ago (we didn't talk about it when we were young) and found that like me, he always expected to die in a nuclear holocaust. We never thought we'd grow old, thus didn't really take the future seriously, and as a consequence didn't make concrete plans for the future.

I'd like to know if other WAFers share this experience.

12:15 PM  
Blogger Christian Schulzke said...

Problem: the black liberal Democrat, like Bill, also proved to be a disappointment. Even worse, the guy was full of shit, and the country much worse off in 2016 than it had been in 2008. What would an intelligent person conclude? That it makes no difference *who* gets elected; it's always business as usual. But no, given their immutable bowels, the progs said: "Look at Bernie! All the anti-corporate rhetoric! Once he gets into office, it will all be different."

In addition, the progs deluded themselves into thinking that Obama was (and is) a great Liberal ready to do Liberal things were it not for the evil Republicans blocking him at every turn. In other words, he tried his best, and we should be grateful for what he did achieve.

It highlights one of the major problems with the Left; once they latch onto something they accept as true, they will cling to it to the very end regardless of how much empirical evidence accumulates to the contrary. It is why it is healthy to have a vibrant, thinking, Conservative voice in America. Alas, the current iteration of the Republican party is not it.

I am reminded of a quote by Clive James. "The perpetual dimwit-left consensus will disgust any liberal eventually, but the trick is to reclaim the democratic center, not to take refuge in the illusion that the traditional right-wing prejudices were a system of thought all along."

12:41 PM  
Blogger Agent00Soul said...

Al - I asked some college guys I met this very question at a screening of "Dr. Strangelove" last year. They are more concerned with getting shot up in a public space by a psycho or blown up by religious terrorists than with atomic weapons. And statistically, I guess, they would be correct about that.

1:10 PM  
Anonymous politically incorrect said...

here's something to lift your day...

The 400 year old art and craftsmanship of Kokeshi dolls

4:22 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

Yet another reason to stay home with a good book:

"If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. One of the last cultural holdouts against text messaging, the movie theater, may be set for an invasion.

AMC Entertainment CEO Adam Aron has said he’s open to relaxing the ban on cell phone use in an effort to get more millennials into movie theaters. He wants this generation of movie-goers to attend “with the same degree of intensity” that the baby boomers did."

Talking and texting, texting and talking. Plus the added attraction of disgusting schmutz on the soles of your shoes. Who wants to go out to the multiplex?

4:33 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

We have been accumulating Karma for too long now.....

Kevin, Karma could use a little bit of help from us the Wafers -Sanders or not, we should all vote for Trompa. Who knows, like the "hinging chad" debacle of yr 2000 our vote could be the tiebreaker. Karma might reward us with front row seats, reserved only for the Wafers, to watch the final chapter of the freak show ending in its logic conclusion when the theatre itself engulfs in flames along with Trompa's toupee. The raging inferno finally smothers the cackling laughter of the douche baguette.

On the Karma front this a must read book: "The Empire of Necessity" by Greg Grandin.
(GSWH, you'll really this book. It is a beautiful prose on a very tragic tale. Also Grandin is a thorough gentleman and a bright historian you should meet someday.)

GC said, “Scratch any cynic and you will find a disappointed idealist”. When does the idealist throw in the towel and stops being disappointed? The empire's chickens are just returning home to roost. It is only the beginning. Nobody escapes karma, Exodus 21-24.

9:45 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Pls send messages to most recent post. No one reads the old stuff. Thanks.


10:10 PM  

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